Sicily is a melting pot of cultures both ancient and modern, with the earliest evidence of human settlement going as far back as 8,000 BC. There is no shortage of sights to see and places to explore on holidays to Sicily, given the many tourist sites on the large Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea. To some, discovering this island could be a rather intimidating undertaking; but for the determined, the secret lies in streamlining the travel itinerary and doing sufficient preparation before embarking on the trip. Since the island is mostly known for its history, architecture, and archaeological sites, going on any tour will undeniably be a fruitful experience for the traveller who wishes to get to know it.
A historic tour of the island would not be complete without visiting the Villa Romana del Casale, one its most famous attractions. The ancient Roman villa features an exquisite collection of mosaics, which cover the entire floor. The restoration of the villa was completed recently and it was reopened in 2013, allowing the public to marvel once again at the intricate mosaics that tell so much about the island’s culture, history, and artistic roots. Those on holidays to Sicily with a historical bent will also want to see the Acropolis of Selinunte. The ruins of the ancient Greek city on the southern coast consist of five temples converging around the acropolis. The massive complex, which dates back to 628 BC, has uncovered much about Selinunte as a significant Greek colony and about the island as a whole.
There are a great number of cathedrals and churches on the island, and when talking of religious buildings, architecture is always considered alongside. After all, the most famous religious buildings on the island were constructed thousands of years ago and are perfect representations of the architectural style of the era from which they came.
Sicilian Baroque was a style mostly confined to churches in the 18th century, and which continues to be one of the island’s defining legacies. This influence is most evident in Catania, the second largest city on the island and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Catania Cathedral is a site visited by most people who come on holidays to Sicily, and it has been rebuilt several times over the centuries. It truly embodies Sicilian Baroque architecture; the cathedral’s façade was reconstructed after the massive earthquake of 1693, which provided an opportunity for architect Gian Battista Vaccarini to design it in a completely different style.
There will always be too many places to see on short holidays to Sicily. Luckily, visiting museums is kind of a shortcut to discovering many things at once. The Museo Archeologico Regionale Eoliano, or the Regional Archaeological Museum, is located in the Lipari Castle in Messina. Built in the Second World War, the museum now houses a large collection of 6th century vases and various other artefacts from the prehistoric to modern period. The museum has 40 rooms spread over the castle complex, and visitors will have no trouble understanding each collection as they have been expertly catalogued and labelled.